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County eyes cuts in state aid

Expecting cuts in state revenue to counties, and knowing it will have to adjust its budget accordingly, the McLeod County Board met in a workshop session Monday with attorney Susan Hansen of Frank Madden and Associates about employment issues.

Hansen told the board it needed to consider several things if it wanted to adjust its budget by such items as a reduced work week, leave without pay, early retirements and salary freezes.

Among the things the board needs to research and be mindful of before doing any of those things are:

• A cost analysis of each proposal to make sure it is saving the county money. For example, Hansen said, if the county offered an incentive for early retirement, on top of the usual severance package, it will need to make sure that those costs don't exceed the savings of that employee retiring.

• Union contracts. Hansen said the county will need to be mindful of the terms of its contracts with union employees. And a lot depends on where the county is in the negotiating process, she said.

An established multi-year contract will be difficult, if not impossible, to deal with, said Hansen. In some union bylaws, a 100 percent approval by members is needed to reopen an existing contract.

But given the current economic crisis, it doesn't hurt to approach the unions about that possibility.

This is really highly unusual time